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Activists end hunger strike; plan escalations for release of detainees

Political activists end hunger strike and plan new protests to press for the release of protesters still detained in the Abbasiya clashes with the military earlier this month

Ahram Online , Tuesday 22 May 2012
Hunger strike
Archive photo of Egyptian activists with stickers that read: "No to military trials for civilians". (Photo:AP)
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Thirty one political movements announce they are currently preparing escalating demonstrations to demand the release of those detained during clashes in Abbasiya earlier this month.

Their most recent protest was a one-day symbolic hunger strike of 400 citizens on Sunday in solidarity with the 86 prisoners already on hunger strike. The clock is ticking, according to their press release, as the health of Abbasiya detainees on hunger strike is deteriorating.

The activists have been held in military detention since their arrest during 4 May clashes between demonstrators and security forces outside defence ministry headquarters in Cairo's Abbasiya district. Accounts of torture have come from many detainees in the past.

More than 300 were arrested in the mass demonstrations against Egypt's ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF). Although a number have since been released, 89 reportedly remain in custody.

Detainees face several charges, using violence against military personnel, disrupting traffic, gathering illegally and trespassing on restricted military areas.

Political groups signing the press statement include the Justice and Freedom Youth movement; the Socialist Popular Alliance Party; the National Front for Justice and Democracy; the Popular Committees for the Defence of the Revolution; the Revolution Youth Coalition; the Revolutionary Socialists; the Alliance of Revolutionary Forces; the Second Revolution of Rage; the Egyptian Current Party; the Free Islamist Current; the Free Islamist Alliance; the General Islamist Current; the Salafist Front; the 'We are all Detainees' movement; the No to Military Trials campaign; the National Association for Change; the Our Rights movement; the Egyptian Feminist Alliance; the Revolution Continues Alliance and others.

The military has repeatedly claimed that the arrests came only after demonstrators had attempted to storm the defence ministry. Activists, meanwhile, accuse military police of using excessive force to disperse demonstrators and referring civilians to military courts.

Egyptian activists have long campaigned for an end to the practice of referring civilians to military tribunals, demanding that all civilians facing military prosecution be referred to civil courts. Some 12,000 civilians are estimated to have faced military prosecution since the SCAF assumed executive power in February of last year following the ouster of former president Hosni Mubarak.

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